USAG Japan Commander Invited to View Rare Asteroid Samples at Sagamihara Museum | Item
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (December 13, 2021) – The Commander of the U.S. Army Garrison in Japan has been invited to visit one of the major museums in the city of Sagamihara for the rare opportunity to view samples of asteroids brought back during the six-year “Hayabusa2” mission.
The Mayor of the City of Sagamihara, Kentaro Motomura, escorted Colonel Christopher L. Tomlinson and his wife, Amaya, on their December 8 visit to the City Museum of Sagamihara, alongside the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency , or JAXA, located near Camp Zama.
Motomura said he invited the Tomlinsons to the museum on behalf of the city during JAXA’s week-long special exhibition, during which the museum displayed samples of the asteroid “Ryugu”, from which the spacecraft Space Asteroid Explorer Hayabusa2 was collected and returned to Earth in 2020 The mission received great support from the citizens of Sagamihara, Motomura said.
The JAXA Museum, Campus, and Research Center are located on land that the US Army returned to Japan in 1974. Therefore, the visit to the exhibit by the Commander of USAG Japan and his wife was a great opportunity to share not only an important cultural aspect of the city, but also to show the beneficial way the city uses the land, Motomura said.
“USAG Japan and the city of Sagamihara have formed a deep bond over many commanders and mayors before Colonel Tomlinson and myself, and I am sure that bond will continue into the next generation,” said Motomura.
Masaki Fujimoto, deputy director general of the JAXA Institute for Space and Astronautical Sciences, who guided the Tomlinsons on their tour, admitted that the samples on display might look like “ordinary black pebbles”, but he asked them to imagine the story behind how they got there. Until three years ago, Fujimoto told them, these samples were on the surface of an asteroid passing through outer space, and it took the teamwork of many people to bring them back to Earth. .
“If you look [the samples] through scientific eyes, they tell us a lot about our orbital solar system, ”said Fujimoto.
Tomlinson called the visit “exceptional” and thanked Motomura, Fujimoto and JAXA for allowing him and his wife to see such a rare exhibit in a museum located on “fairly substantial property”.
Fujimoto explained to Tomlinson that efforts like the Hayabusa2 mission are made possible by a valuable alliance between NASA and JAXA.
“I think it’s a testament to the alliance, both of Japan and the United States, to come together and experience this level of technology,” Tomlinson said.
“We try to put the emphasis on science and technology inside our schools,” added Tomlinson. “What a fine example of agitation [an interest in] science and technology in our community, especially in our [educational system]. “